Arizona Memorial Day weekend travel to drop slightly

Memorial Day travel in Arizona is projected to dip slightly this year, according to AAA Arizona.

This weekend, which serves as the unofficial kickoff to the summer travel season, more than 701,000 Arizonans will head out of town, representing a 0.4 percent drop from last year.

AAA attributes the drop to a pullback in air travel. But auto travel will help bolster numbers.

“Memorial Day travel is a mixed bag this year,” said Amy Moreno, director of travel services for AAA Travel. “A decline in air travel has pulled overall travel down below year-ago levels, but auto travel remains strong and is up slightly. This is consistent with AAA booking trends for the year.”

In Arizona, nearly all projected travelers are expected to hop into an auto. More than 618,000, or 88 percent, of Memorial Day travelers plan to drive, which equates to a 0.4 percent increase from last year. With lower pump prices, drivers will be able to enjoy their three-day weekends a little bit more.

Arizonans will fill up for an average of $3.43 a gallon this holiday weekend, compared with $3.77 a year ago.

Up in the skies, 57,000 Arizonans will fly over Memorial Day, a drop of 6.3 percent from 2012.

For travelers headed in and out of town by air, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is offering 40 percent off on garage parking from May 23 to 30, which translates to $15 a day compared with the standard $25. Download the coupon at http://www.skyharbor.com.

The average round-trip distance Arizonans will travel this holiday is projected to be just over 800 miles, according to AAA. Nearly 50 percent of Arizonans, however, will travel 700 miles or fewer.

AAA says median spending this Memorial Day weekend is expected to be $730, 30 percent of which will go to food and beverage and another 20 percent to fuel. The remaining 50 percent will be doled out to accommodations (14 percent), entertainment (13 percent), shopping (10 percent), other transportation (7 percent) and miscellaneous costs.

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